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Facial Pain

Facial pain may arise from a nerve disorder, or a local injury or infection in any of the major structures of the face. Facial pain may also originate from other parts of the body, and it sometimes occurs for no known reason.

Atypical Facial Pain
Atypical facial pain refers to pain in the face for which there is no specific cause. A sufferer often describes the pain as aching, burning, cramping, dull, nagging or throbbing on one side of the face. This pain can also extend to the upper neck or back of the scalp. Each episode usually lasts longer than a few seconds (minutes or hours), and can be intermittent or continuous with few, if any, pain-free periods. The pain can be severe enough to affect sleep.

Atypical facial pain affects mainly adult men and women with equal frequency.

This condition does not respond to the usual pain medications and surgery. The most widely used medication to treat this condition is anti-depressants and anti-convulsants which have a specific effect on nerve pain. M ultidisciplinary management by other allied health professionals is also an important part of treatment.

Trigeminal Neuralgia
The trigeminal nerve is one of the largest nerves in the head. It relays touch, pressure, temperature and painful sensations from the face to the brain.

Trigeminal neuralgia, also known as tic douloureux, is a non-fatal disorder of the trigeminal nerve. This disorder is more common in women than men and in people older than 50 years, although it can occur at any age. It is generally characterized by episodes of sudden, intense, stabbing or electric shock-like pain on one side of the face. This pain attack is spasmodic, lasts a few seconds and can occur several times consecutively and can repeat many times over the course of the day. The pain often starts when specific trigger points on the face are touched. For eg, simple acts of brushing teeth, chewing, applying make-up, shaving and talking can trigger an attack and cause severe pain. These triggers vary from person to person.In between attacks, the patient is completely pain-free and sleep is not affected.

People with trigeminal neuralgia are usually treated with anti-neuropathic medications, such as gabapentin or carbamazepine. Other medications, such as anti-depressants, may be given to for their neuropathic pain-relieving effects. If medications are ineffective in relieving pain or produce undesirable side effects, surgery may be required.

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